'Atithi Devo Bhava'
Respect & a warm welcome for guests is imbibed in the Indian Culture. You have heard the phrase quite often, and must have experienced the same on your visits to various parts of the country. Also, if you have ever been to Kasol, Mcleodganj, Old Manali or Goa, you would have certainly come across a group of merry-making Israelis. You may or may not have inquired about their culture and their home country but must have been intrigued by how these Indian tourist locations have adapted themselves to welcome the Israeli folks with signboards in Hebrew, and dedicated restaurant menus. As a matter of fact, the Indian welcome to the Israeli community finds its traces in history when Jews arrived at the Southern shore of India long back in 50 BC, escaping persecution after the siege of Jerusalem. The Kochi Jews became the first set of followers of Judaism to settle in India receiving the warm hospitality of the Chera ruler Cheraman Parumal.
Eventually, at varied times in history, two different sets of the Jew community from Middle East settled in India- The Bene Israelis who arrived at the Konkan coast around the 3rd Century AD; and the Baghdadi Jews who settled down in the port cities of Bombay and Bengal in the 18th century. The Jew Community lived peacefully in India with harmony for centuries. In 1948, with Israel being recognised as a country, a good percentage of the Jews decided to leave India for their holy land. Currently, less than 5000 Jews dwell in India, but they have gifted us with a beautiful peak into their culture: